I was surrounded by people speaking languages I did not understand—my guess: Ukrainian in front of me, Hungarian behind. So eavesdropping was not an option. I got out my phone and read a short story by Kim Addonzio. Her characters aren't especially likeable, so I switched to a book, a memoir. And so I shuffled along, feeling at times irritated by the women behind me, who were not giving me much space and were speaking loudly—why loudly? they're all right there: can't they hear? About forty-five minutes in I decided to escape and pulled out my iPod: Paul Simon's Graceland, loud—much better. And on we shuffled.
An hour and a half after I fell into line, we emerged from the security checkpoint.
After that, everything was a breeze: the basilica was crowded, but it's big, accommodating 300,000 people. There weren't that many there. I especially enjoyed a golden stained glass window of the dove of peace, the crypt (rather empty), the fact that Michelangelo was only 23 when he was commissioned to create the Pietà (behind glass now, sadly), and climbing the 551 steps to the top of the dome, getting progressively squeezed as the dome curves up and in. Oh yeah, and the view.
I'm glad I went. I'm not especially glad about the waiting in line part, but being a tourist requires certain sacrifices.
Here are some photos.
|Many of the people inside take pictures of each other. |
(The man in green was wearing a Rome marathon number.)
|At the first level of the cupola, with a view|
into the basilica (and a screen to prevent jumping?).
|Looking up from the first level of the cupola.|
|See the line? That's the line.|
|Definitely worth the climb for the views all around.|